Garuda unveils five-year growth targets

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Garuda Indonesia has unveiled a new strategy that aims to drastically increase its routes, aircraft and passenger numbers in the next five years.

The "quantum leap" programme will transform the airline by 2014 and build on the boost it received earlier this month when the EU lifted a ban on carrier, said Garuda's president Emirsyah Satar after inaugurating its new Jakarta office.

"Although the external situation is less supportive because of the global financial crisis and increasing competition, Garuda will continue its development programmes prudently," he was quoted as saying by the official Antara news agency.

A Garuda spokesman says that the airline plans to increase its domestic and international destinations to 62 from 41 by 2014 under the plan. Its fleet size will increase to 116 aircraft from 62 to achieve this. This should increase passenger numbers to 27.6 million from 10.1 million last year, he added.

Much of that growth will come from the long-haul market, in which Garuda has not been able to make a mark in since the EU imposed a blanket ban on all Indonesian airlines in June 2007 after a series of fatal airline accidents in the country.

"We are mainly a domestic and regional airline. We do not have a long-haul market, but that is something we will aim to grow in the next few years," says the spokesman. Garuda, which last flew to Europe in 2004, would start again in April-June 2010 using its new Airbus A330-200s, he added.

It also hopes to expand its services to the Asia Pacific, and is launching Jakarta-Melbourne services in August and Adelaide-Denpasar Bali services in November. Other international destinations that it is eyeing include Tokyo, Sydney, Shanghai and Seoul.

Garuda is also expanding its domestic routes as it takes on the privately-owned Indonesian carriers like Lion Air and Mandala Airlines.

According to ACAS, Garuda has three A330-300s, one A330-200, 26 Boeing 737-300 and 10 Boeing 777-300ERs on order.